Money Saving Event Tips


What do you do if you want a Pinterest Worthy, Instagram trending and Facebook liked wedding, but don’t want to spend a fortune?  Here are a few money saving event tips.

Flowers and DecorSucculents

  • Real flowers can be super costly so be careful.  To minimize the cost, choose only local in season flowers.  Below are three stunning examples of Kentucky-grown flower arrangements by Meadowview Flowers and Sara Jane Camacho.  If you have a green thumb you can use live plants like these succulents as decor and favors.  Also consider moving ceremony flowers to your reception so that you don’t have to buy flowers for both locations.  Bouquets can also be used for centerpieces after the ceremony like in the center photo below.
  • Use spray paint to make mismatch items more cohesive.  For example, if you have vases that don’t match each other or your theme colors, try spaying them all the same color.  You can even try spray paints with textures.
  • Find used decor by asking on social media for what you need.  You may find someone who is willing to let you borrow, rent or buy for cheap.  You can also buy it locally through yard sales, thrift shops or Craigslist.  Tradesy and Ruffled offer lots of good options through an online peer-to-peer sales platform.
  • Etsy is the go-to website for finding unique, custom and reasonably priced items.  We found our guest book on Etsy.
  • Ask for advice or have them fill out a mad lib on your RSVP card then decorate with them to add a personal touch to your event.
  • Reuse ceremony decor at the reception.  Be sure to have a team of able and willing people ready to handle this.


  • Use store bought or homemade food (check with your venue to make sure that’s an option…it is at Warrenwood!)
  • Hold your event at a time people will not expect a full meal and serve light finger foods.  Our reception started around 3:30 pm so we just had both sweet and savory snack type foods such as popcorn, beef jerky, cupcakes, cookies and a charcuterie bar.Maggie Cake
  • Bring back the cake and punch reception.  My grandparents talk about how “in the good ole days”, weddings had cake and punch receptions instead of huge receptions.  To save money, you can bring back the tradition.  Tiered, fondant-covered cakes are the most expensive so you can opt for a small cake to cut along with cupcakes or sheet cakes for all the guests.
  • Keep meat options to a minimum as they are usually the most expensive dishes.  This is great for the budget and for your vegetarian guests.
  • Be conservative on your guest count.  Excess food as well as other expenses can be avoided if you can get an accurate guest count prior to the event.
  • Make sure that your caterer doesn’t make any assumptions about what services you want from them.  For example, you may be able to save some money if you have a crew of guests that are willing to clear tables and pick up trash instead of paying the caterers to do it.  Also, discuss how the food will be displayed so that you aren’t paying for unnecessary items.


  • Be sure to shop around before you make any decisions.
  • You don’t have to get everything from one place, but remember delivery charges can add up.
  • If you have willing helpers pick up rentals yourself to avoid delivery fees.
  • Instead of a photo booth, purchase Polaroid or disposable cameras to serve the same purpose.
  • Some dry cleaners offer linen rental at a reasonable cost.  They may need to be steamed or ironed so just keep that in mind.
  • Forgo rentals all together and opt for a picnic!


Check out some of our other posts, like The Wedding Dress and Host an Eco-Friendly Event, for additional money saving tips.

Host an Eco-Friendly Wedding

All of us know that to be eco-friendly we must reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible…I mean we all learned this in like the 1st grade, right?  But, what does that mean for your wedding or event?  In this post we’ll share some ideas on how to throw an eco-friendly event.  Even a few little changes to the standard can make a big impact.

Eco-Friendly Decor

  • Use what you have or have access to via friends/family, rent what you can and as a last resort Barn wedding with  eco-friendly option of reused decorbuy or repurpose used/recycled decor.
  • If you have to buy something for your event that you will not use afterward, sell it somehow or give it to whomever you know that is have a wedding soon.  Remember that what you buy doesn’t have to be brand new! Check out these options for buying and selling:
    • Tradsey: Up to 90% off wedding decor and last I checked they had over 9,000 items listed!
    • Ruffled:  Has a section called Recycle Your Wedding where you can buy, sell or post a picture of what you’re looking for.
    • Wedding Bee Classifieds:  Decor, dresses, shoes, you name it, someone is selling it here.
    • 100 Layer Cake Marketplace:  You may need to sift through some spam posts, but tons of great stuff here!
  • Minimize the number of tables that need to be decorated by using larger tables or seating without tables…picnics are always fun!Eco-Friendly Picnic Wedding at Warrenwood Manor
  • Use live plants and natural components for decor.  Don’t worry you black thumbs out there, you can rent live plants. Succulents are a great option even in bouquets because they can be planted after the event.
  • If you are going to have cut flowers, use in-season local flowers arranged by a local florist.
  • Consider donating your flowers after your event.  After our wedding we gave our centerpieces and aisle flowers to the local senior center.  Be sure to call ahead to make arrangements.
  • Favors should be reusable instead of one-time-use items. Confetti Daydreams sharEco-friendly Succulent Centerpiecees some creative suggestions.
  • Don’t forget eco-friendly confetti if you are doing a send-off. The Bridal Guide lists five biodegradable options.  And please, for the love of all things cute, not so cute, furry and not so furry roaming about in the outdoors, do not release balloons or Chinese lanterns…this is littering people.  {Stepping off soapbox now.}

Eco-Friendly Apparel and Accessories

  • The Outfits:
    • The Ladies: Wear used dresses or rent dresses and wear shoes you already have.  You can also sell your dresses after the event if you are unlikely to wear it again.
    • The Men: Have the men wear something they already have, will wear again or can rent.
  • The Rings: As Ruffled suggests, “Select environmentally conscious metals. Ask your jeweler about rings made of recycled metals. OR — collect jewelry from family and have it melted down and crafted into your own personal ring design.”
  • Bouquets and Boutonnieres:  If you choose to have real flowers, keep the bouquets and boutonnieres small and made from local flowers.

Eco-Friendly Food

  • Serve a local, in-season menu cooked by a local caterer in order to reduce fossil fuel emissions and support your local farmers. {Insert shameless plug here}
  • Be conservative with the number of guests so that you don’t have a lot of leftover food.
  • Have to-go boxes for guests so food isn’t wasted, especially the cake! But, if there are leftovers you can donate them to a local organization. Be sure to discuss this with your caterer in advance.
  • Minimize the paper products need and use recyclable/compostable materials when possible.  Green Party Goods and Susty Party have some really cute options.
  • Serve water in pitchers or dispensers Eco-Friendly Wedding- Drink Dispensers instead of bottles.
  • Make recycling and composting easy for your guests and caterers by providing labeled receptacles.
  • Ask guests to reuse their glass.  Simply post a sign with the request.

General Eco-Friendly Suggestions

  • Choose a venue with lots of natural light, hold your event during the day and outdoors if possible to minimize the energy consumption.
  • Hold the ceremony and reception in one place so everyone doesn’t have to drive between locations.
  • Use local vendors as much as possible and book hotels near the venue to reduce travel time for everyone.  Warrenwood is located within two miles of several hotels.
  • Minimize paper used for invitations, programs, place cards and other event correspondence.  Consider an online RSVP, printing double-sided on recycled or plantable paper and going without a printed save-the-date.
  • Request monetary gifts or donations to your favorite charity.  This cuts down on shipping and wrapping.
  • Keep the guest list to people you really want to be there. To keep our guest list short, we made the rule and if we didn’t both know the person (well), they weren’t invited.  Sorry distant relatives!
  • As you’re shopping for event items, use reusable bags.
  • The Knot even goes so far as to share traditions you can skip.

Even if you only incorporate one or two of these eco-friendly event suggestions into your wedding or any event for that matter, you will likely save money AND lower your environmental impact.  It’s a win-win!


Imperfection Quote by Marilyn Monroe

We’re not perfect.  Our house isn’t perfect.  This blog definitely isn’t perfect.  Nothing is perfect.  But, we try our best to be better in every way, every single day.  Overt time persistence and patience bring you a smidgen closer to perfect than imperfect.  Nick and I don’t go around saying this Marilyn Monroe quote or posting it on our walls, but it pretty much defines how we approach our lives.  We embrace imperfection, turn left when everyone else is turning right and do what we want without regard for how crazy it seems to others.  Of course we’re disappointed when a project doesn’t go the way we want, but that’s what makes life interesting!

Imperfect Boiler

Due to a faulty part that couldn’t be replaced, we were putting water in and taking water out of this beast 3 to 4 times a day for 4 months. Talk about an imperfect way to heat your house!

Accepting temporary imperfection allows you to do things right the first time. Temporary fixes don’t actually solving the problem so they should be avoided if at all possible.  Just think, it is what it is for now because I am waiting until I have the time and money to replace/repair it correctly.   We went through our first winter months with a Sears and Roebuck boiler {the boiler is the thing that allegedly keeps your house warm}.  Ours was badly outdated and in desperate need of parts, but it was too old to even order the parts.  I refused to just go with the first heating and cooling solutions that came up because I knew I wasn’t able to make an educated decision.  Often times, skilled laborers are very good at their job, but they may not be so great at caring for your home on a larger scale, or your bank account for that matter!  When embarking on a major project, do your own research by studying your home, consulting multiple experts and utilizing a multitude of resources.  Being able to deal with an imperfect situation will allow you time to complete your project right the first time.

Scaffolding up at an imperfect time

Due to water damage, all four corners of the main house needed to be repointed. {Scrape out old mortar, replace with new…hire someone to do this!}

As you well know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Although, sometimes I wish it was so that I could justify my desire to have every facet of my life perfect at any given time…but, what’s the challenge in that, right?  What’s challenging is putting your desire to have the perfect house RIGHT NOW aside to accommodate your budget and the inevitable delays associated with construction.  Never, EVER rush a contractor to finish a job.  You will pay the price in the long run.  Make sure you hire good people who are also skilled, agree upon a completion date in advance and monitor project milestones along the way to keep the process on track.  (This tip goes back to educating yourself on the project…do your own research!)  Be sure to anticipate unforeseen issues and know that some things like drying times or weather are out of your control….for example, you may have scaffolding up during an event because it’s rained every day since the beginning of time and your guys can’t get the mortar to dry while repointing the brick…yes, that happened.  Check out this link from the NPS Preservation Briefs to learn a little more about the process, it’s pretty interesting!

The main part of the house was completed in 1856 and there have been renovations from every era; some good and some not so good.  The paint has chips, the plaster has cracks and some sort of invisible bug is eating on all our bushes.  But, that’s ok, if everything was perfect wouldn’t life be so boring?!    Once we decided to turn Warrenwood into a venue, we had to accept imperfection.  Of course we want to offer all of our customers the “perfect venue,” but we can’t.  When we set out on this endeavor our goal was and still is to preserve and share this beautiful property with others. Preservation takes time; it’s a labor of love.  By accepting imperfection, our preservation efforts have been more rewarding than we ever thought possible both visually and emotionally.

Decor Shopping: Outlets and Online

Decor Shopping- Outlets & Online

Decor Shopping: Outlets

  • Ballard Design, Frontgate and Grandin Road share an outlet location in West Chester, OH.  Of the three we have had particularly good luck at Ballard, where we purchased accent chairs, large mirrors, an upholstered bench, bar stools and side tables.  Many of the items here are simply surplus items without any damage.  However, there are a lot of damaged items as well, so look everything over really well.  Don’t forget to check out the websites before you go!  Ballard actually lists their sales for the week under each location AND you can call with an item number to see if they have it in stock…they don’t like to do this, but they will 😉
  • The Pottery Barn Outlet in Jeffersonville, OH has a large selection of furniture with minor damage and surplus decor.  They actually have a large nursery and kids section, which wasn’t helpful for us, but may be of interest to you.  It’s a great place to pick up pillows, throws, picture frames and mantle decor.
  • Arhaus recently opened an outlet near Colombus, OH.  You can find key furniture items here such as couches, beds, tables and accent chairs, but they had very few decor items when we visited.  Many of the chairs and side tables we looked at were damaged, but a lot of the couches seemed to be in pretty good shape.
  • Though we haven’t gone yet, an Anthropologie outlet called Final Cut does exist in Augusta, GA.  It looks like they have a nice mix of apparel and home furnishings at affordable prices.  When we do go, I believe renting a U-Haul will be necessary.

Decor Shopping: Online

Copy Cat Chic and Racked have both shared excellent go-to lists for finding furniture and decor items online, but we wanted to share some of our finds too.

Peer-to-Peer E-commerce

  • Etsy showcases on handmade or vintage items and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items from all over the world.  Etsy is also a great place to find tons of wedding related items…more to come on this in the future.
  • Custom Made connects customers who want one-of-a-kind creations with professional and passionate makers of those goods.
  • On Chairish you’ll find vintage furniture, decor, jewelry and accessories featuring curator-approved treasures in a full-service and trustworthy environment.  LOVE this site!
  • Craigslist provides local classifieds for the buying and selling of many things, amount which are furniture and home decor.  Always meet in a public place with good lighting and try to take someone with you!
  • Everything But the House = latest addiction.  Allowing you to shop a multitude of estate sales online, it’s really everything a lazy yard sale shopper ever imagined.  Surprisingly, there are lots of options for those located in the Kentucky area and are willing to travel.  There are sales in Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnati and Nashville.

Discount Retailers

  • Zulily is a flash sale deal website offering Home items in a category organized by either collection or brand.  If you are in need of something quickly, Zulily may not be the best option since your item will not be shipped until the flash sale is complete.
  • Overstock brings together high-quality surplus products from a wide variety of companies and puts them  all on one site at a discounted price.
  • Wayfair has one of the largest online selections of furniture, home furnishings, décor and goods, including more than seven million products from over 7,000 suppliers.  Wayfair also includes a portfolio of other brands including Birch Lane, a collection of classic furnishings and timeless home décor, and Joss & Main, an online flash sales site offering inspiring home design daily.
  • One Kings Lane launches new daily sales on furniture and decor at 8am PT/ 11am ET and evening sales launch Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 6pm PT/ 9 PM ET. Quantities are limited so shop early.  Sometimes they even have vintage pieces.
  • Home Decorators Collection has a ton of variety and constantly updating sales.  Some of the many purchases from there have included preserved boxwood topiaries and table mirrors.

Specialized Retailers

  • We used Lighting Direct and Lamps Plus to find affordable lighting options for the bathroom we completely gutted and the barn.  Lamps Plus also offers furniture and home decor.
  • House of Antique Hardware offers original vintage and authentic reproduction hardware, as well as hardware restoration and custom manufacturing services.
  • Rejuvenation sells hardware, lighting, fixtures, furniture and restored salvage items for indoor and outdoor projects.
  • Van Dyke’s has a selection of 50,000 hardware and restoration supply products to complete a Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Mid-Century, Retro, Traditional, or Transitional look.


Local Furniture and Decor Shopping

Local Furniture and Decor Shopping

To continue our discussion of furniture and decor shopping, we thought we would talk about some of the places we found and loved as we were shopping for projects at Warrenwood Manor.  We’ll start with local retailers and department stores in the central Kentucky area.

A booth at Not Just Antiques

A booth at Not Just Antiques

Second-Hand Furniture and Decor Shopping in Central Kentucky

  • The Peddler’s Mall and Not Just Antiques are large multi-vendor stores with a wide variety of new and old items.  Great pieces can be found, but you have to be willing to spend the time to find them and maybe even alter or fix them once purchased.
  • The Blue Bird Market  is a large non-profit second hand furniture and decor store open only on Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm.  Their proceeds support the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center.
  • The Sycamore Shop, located on Main Street in Danville, is filled with interesting vintage and classic reproduction pieces.  The
    The Sycamore Shop

    The Sycamore Shop

    owner is very helpful and willing to place special orders if she doesn’t have exactly what you are looking for.  We have purchased items such as vases, door stops, mantle decor and coasters.

  • Another Man’s Treasure, in Lexington, buys and sells new, used and antique furniture.  They have some really unique items as well as very traditional pieces.
  • Feather Your Nest is a multi-dealer store with antiques and eclectic vintage items located off Main Street/Leestown Road in Lexington.  Here you can find decor, clothing and much more of all eras and styles.
  • The Wooden Nickel offers architectural salvage and antiques in Cincinnati.  If you are looking for large items this is the best place to find them.
  • Cowgirl Attic is all about recycled, reclaimed and repurposed pieces. At their store in Lexington, they have a massive inventory of old building materials, antiques, lighting and garden decor.  Everywhere you look there is something interesting.
  • Joe Ley Antiques in Louisville has a huge, constantly changing inventory of antiques and architectural salvage.  Even if you aren’t ready to buy, Joe Ley Antiques is in a really cool schoolhouse built in 1890 so it is worth a visit.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances.  All proceeds are used to build Habitat homes locally and around the world. There are several locations so be sure to find the one nearest to you.
  • If you’re really adventurous, you can find some really unique decor and furniture at the 127 Yard Sale.  Held every August, and known as The World’s Longest Yard Sale, it’s 690 miles long covering 6 states and attracting crowds from all over the US.  Anyone can sell anything at any price.  It will take no time at all for you to find plenty of things you never knew existed, but it may take some time to find what you are looking for.

Furniture and Decor Shopping at Department Stores in Central Kentucky

We like to support locally owned stores whenever possible, but for basic items we had to rely some on standard large stores such as Hobby Lobby, Marshall’s, Kohl’s, Tuesday Morning, Pier One, Home Goods, Target and Macy’s.  Everyone is probably familiar with these stores, so we won’t waste words on them!

In our next post we’ll cover furniture and decor shopping at outlet stores and online.

Decor Shopping 101

Decor Shopping

At Warrenwood Manor we are trying to find the balance between old southern charm and modern functionality.  The goal is to create a home where visitors feel comfortable.  To accomplish this look we shop all over the place for the perfect decor at a reasonable price.  We are still a work in progress; doing a little bit at a time, unless, of course, we happen to win the lottery.  In upcoming posts we will share with you some of our favorite places for furniture and decor shopping, but first here are some basic decorating and shopping tips.

  • First and foremost, set a budget.  Even if you have all the money in the world, there is no need to be extravagant.  A budget for the entire project as well as separate budgets for each section of the project is best so you can prioritize spending on key items that matter most to you.  Having an idea of what you plan to spend will help to determine where you should shop.
    We are starting to collect ideas on Pinterest for the renovation of our tiny cottage.

    We are starting to collect ideas on Pinterest for the renovation of our tiny cottage.

  • Use Pinterest to gather inspiring ideas, but be realistic and practical.  Yes, that $7,000 dining room table is gorgeous, but wouldn’t you rather have health insurance for the year.  Yes, a hanging bed in the center of the room looks cool, but just imagine your three-year-old demolishing the rest of your bedroom with just one swing.  Not practical.
  • Be able to describe the feel you want the room to have.  Do you want the room to feel comfortable or formal, feminine or masculine, calm or energetic.  Cater your colors, materials, style and texture accordingly.
  • To pull our Bridal Suite look together we brought in a rug from a different room in the house and recovered the settee.

    Try to work with what you already have before purchasing something new.  Consider painting, recovering and other alterations that update the look of old items.  This doesn’t always save money or time, but reworking a family heirloom or quality piece is usually worth it.  If you don’t want to keep what you have, try selling it so you can use the cash to buy new.  A yard sale is always an option, as well as selling online through Craigslist or one of these nine websites.

  • Make a list of everything you need.  The key word here is NEED.  I don’t know about you, but without a list I usually leave the store with a bunch of extra stuff, not what I really needed and no money.  OR I spend a ton of time shopping an get absolutely nothing other than frustrated.  Plus, I get lost and sidetracked easily, so I write a list to give myself direction.
  • The measuring tape is your friend.  Be sure to take the appropriate measurements before you leave home so you know what you’re looking for and while in the store so you don’t buy something that won’t work.  It may also help to take photos and sketch out the room and specific spaces you are shopping for so that you can visualize new items in their place.
  • Do your research in advance.  To save time and money, call ahead to stores to see what sales they are running.  Also, visit store websites prior to your visit to make a list of items that you want so that you can ask about them if you don’t see them.
  • Take your time.  Take snacks.  Decor shopping is hard.  You aren’t going to be able to get everything you want, in the exact shape, style, size and color at the first store.  You’re vision may change as you shop and that is okay.

Check back tomorrow for a post about decor and furniture shops in Central Kentucky.

Personalize Your Wedding

A wedding is your chance to express who you and your fiancé are as a couple.  In order to personalize your event, focus on what is most important to you and your fiancé and make it GREAT.  More importantly, don’t sweat the stuff that doesn’t matter to you.  Make sure the decisions you make reflect who you are and what’s most important to you on your big day.  Here are some examples of how to put a personal touch on your event.

If you’re all about making your wedding about family, friends and memories:

  • Recreate aspects of your parents’ or grandparents’ weddings.  Do this by wearing something belonging to a family member, using heirloom furniture, decorating with family trinkets or duplicating a ceremony set-up.
    Wedding Ceremony Table

    This table, used as our ceremony backdrop, was made by my uncle from wood found on our family farm. It is one of three similar tables made for my two sisters and I.

  • Incorporate old family photos, engagement photos and other photos of the bride and groom into the decor. The Praise Wedding Online Magazine gives you 27 Cool Ways to Display Photos.
  • Your guestbook is what will forever remind you of all those who were a part of your big day. Weddingomania and ModWedding list some interesting ideas.
  • Give a meaningful party favor. It could be a local food, a traditional family gift or a soundtrack of your favorite songs.  POPSUGAR has some great suggestions, but be sure to take these ideas and make them your own.
  • Choose a menu that you love.  You can incorporate family recipes, designate a signature drink (maybe the drink you were having when you met or went on your first date) or recreate the menu from a special event in your relationship.  You could even do breakfast for dinner just because you want to!


Wedding Reception Cookie Bar

The Cookie Bar at our wedding included Granny Cookies, a family recipe from my mom’s side of the family.

Wedding Reception Beef Jerky

My husband loves beef jerky. We had a beef jerky bar and labeled our favorite flavors.










If you’re all about making everyone feel included at your wedding:

Wedding RSVP Card

Ask your guests to request a song in advance, then add it to your playlist!

  • Have family members and/or friends participate in the event in lieu of a gift.  Ask them to recite a reading or perform a song during the ceremony.  For the musically inclined, they could provide the music for the reception.  If you have someone that is good at hair and make-up ask them to help you and your bridesmaids get ready. Also, crafty friends and family can help with decor.  Maybe even ask the best cooks in your family to whip up breakfast or lunch on the big day.
  • Personalize the ceremony and reception playlists with special songs for the couple or ask guests to send in a song request with their RSVP. Here is an example of a RSVP card from Love Vs. Design.


If you’re all about making sure everyone has a blast at your wedding:Wedding Reception Video Booth



If you’re all about making your wedding beautiful:Program

Now, after all of that, relax and remember that your wedding day is really the beginning of a marriage and that is what it’s really all about.

The Wedding Dress

Most little girls dream of their wedding day.  They imagine the flowers, rings and of course their white dress with lace and frills, train and veil.  Well, not me.  I guess somewhere between playing in the mud and fishing in the pond I forgot to daydream about it.  So, when I went wedding dress shopping I had no clue what I was looking for or how the process worked.  Here is a bit of what I learned.

When to Shop

Start shopping for your dress as soon as possible.  You may find your dress at your very first appointment or you may need to go to several places.  Be sure to leave time for both scenarios.  Depending on the designer/brand, your dress can take several months to come in.  So I suggest shopping at least 6+ months out so you don’t limit your options.  Alterations can take months too depending on what needs to be done.  The dress is a great item to mark off your to do list early.  However, don’t panic if you’re running short on time, just be sure to tell your consultant exactly what your timeline is.

Also, avoid shopping on the weekends if at all possible.  You will get more attention and time from your bridal consultant if the store isn’t crowded.  With fewer brides in the store most, if not all, the dresses will be out so you don’t miss anything.  You will also have more privacy.  I’m telling you ladies, those bridal salons can get crazy…it’s really hard to concentrate, trust me.

Where to Shop

Bridal Consultant

All smiles after Kim picked the perfect dress for me!

The Reading Bridal District in Cincinnati is the place to go if you want lots of options in a condensed area.  There are 44 different wedding related businesses within a two mile radius.  My sister and I found our dresses at Bridal and Formal in the Reading Bridal District.  Their bridal consultants are fantastic and they have a huge selection of dresses.  If you would prefer a more local option just be sure to check their website and call ahead be sure they carry the brands and styles of interest to you.


If you are looking for something inexpensive you have several options.

  • Most bridal stores will have dresses that can be purchased at a discount “off the rack”, meaning they are sample dresses that you can take home that day.  This is perfect if you are on a tight timeline and are near the sample size.  Keep in mind, these dresses are usually stretched, a bit damaged and in need of a good cleaning, but totally usable!
  • J.Crew and BHLDN have some more affordable options alongside their higher end dresses.
  • Tradesy and OnceWed are online marketplaces where you can purchase a gently used dress directly from the bride who wore it.  Nearly Newlywed is similar; offering new, sample, used and preowned designer wedding dresses.
  • Wedding dress rentals are a growing trend.  A New York TImes article titled “The Dress Is Temporary, the Memories Forever” discusses several different companies in the industry including Borrowing Magnolia and Rent the Runway.
  • You can go for a non-traditional dress to save money too.  Try a short dress, non-traditional fabric or even a color other than white or ivory.

How to Shop

  • In the veils and belt room of Bridal & Formal

    In the veils and belt room of Bridal & Formal

    Have fun!  Don’t stress!

  • Wear flesh tone undergarments.  You don’t want to be distracted by your leopard print skivvies showing through your beautiful dress!  And even though you may not actually wear a strapless bra under your dress on the big day, wear it to your appointment so that your bra straps aren’t distracting from the look of your dress.
  • Be clear about your budget.  Is your limit just a suggestion or do you want to be strict?  Does your dress budget include the cost of alterations and shipping?  Don’t forget your accessories!
  • Share information and images about your wedding with your bridal consultant so she/he can get a feel for your style.  It is helpful to bring in images of dresses you like.  But, be sure to keep an open mind.
  • Ask for photos to be taken of you in dresses you are seriously considering.  Sometimes dresses don’t photograph how they appear in person. (Disclaimer: Some bridal salons don’t allow pictures so be sure to ask first.)
  • Try to articulate what you do and don’t like about dresses as you try them on.  This helps guide your consultant to exactly what you want.
  • Keep your entourage to a minimum.  I know it’s hard not to include everyone, but the more people you bring, the more opinions you have and really the only opinion that matters is yours!

There is a dress out there for you no matter your size, budget or style.  Be patient and have fun!

Don't forget to make sure the back of your wedding dress looks good too!

Think about how you will have your dress bustled for your reception. You can’t forget to make sure the back of your wedding dress looks good too!


The Blogging Hiatus Is Over… For Now

To all you dedicated bloggers out there, I salute you.   No, seriously.  Blogging is hard.  It takes a lot of time, focus and dedication.  I have yet to find the balance between getting things done and sharing our journey with you. It seems that blogging consistently finds its way below the one hundred other things on my to-do list.  But, I’m working on it.  Thus, the blogging hiatus is over.  So to catch you up, here’s what’s been going on around the farm!

Babies, Babies and More Babies!

Calving season is to a cattle farmer what March Madness is the UK Basketball team.  Winter is deceivingly calm on the farm and then BOOM spring calving season is here and it’s game time.  From a cow struggling to give birth, to a sick calf, we have to be ready for anything.  We do all that we can to keep momma and baby happily together, but that doesn’t always work out.  This year we have 3 bottle babies: Dolly, Waylon and Whiskey River.  Helen Keller also gets special attention since she was born blind.  Here is a video of Dolly Taking Her Bottle; she’s really serious.

I could go on and on about how we take care of our calves, why we end up with bottle babies, etc, but does anyone really want to know?  I kind of doubt it, but if you do, let me know and I’ll write a post about it.

Giving Our Old House Some Love

From surface level beautification projects to functional improvements, we have been giving Warrenwood Manor some major TLC.

  • In the Groom’s Quarters we redid the plumbing to all the fixtures so it is fully functional, painted the entire area a beautiful Dutch Tile Blue, replaced the carpet and added some furniture and decor.  More to come on this project!
  • The Bridal Suite required some plaster repair, but other than that we really focused on giving it a soft romantic feel through updated décor.
  • To the right of the house we added a 70-space gravel parking lot.
  • The new HVAC system in the house is almost finished.  Though the ductwork fills the basement like hamster tunnels, the vents and returns on the main floors have been creatively disguised.  To my elation, the baseboard heaters throughout the house have been removed and the baseboards are waiting for a fresh coat of paint.

Next, we will turn our attention to repairing some water damage on the four main corners of the house.  The gutters have been repaired to prevent further issues, but work needs to be done to the brick mortar, and to the plaster and wallpaper on the inside of the house.  We also have chandeliers to hang in the main barn and cleaning to do in the running shed.  Now, all this work has to be woven around events at the house since wedding season is here.  Stay tuned for these transformations.

Our First Wedding Season!

It’s hard to believe that the dream of converting Warrenwood into an event venue is actually happening.  We’re shocked that we have so many events booked already!  We thought we’d be lucky to have 5 weddings this year, but we surpassed that estimate long ago.

We are quickly coming to realize how much work it takes to keep up with a property like ours.  Between the renovations, landscaping, cleaning, and regular maintenance, we’ll be busy.  It’s a ton of work, but it’s all worth it to be able to share this amazing place with others.

Historic Home Renovation Begins

Renovation Goals:

  1. Bring the 1856 home of Warrenwood Manor back to life and up to code while preserving as much originality as possible.
  2. Create a unique event venue so that the house can be shared with others.

To be clear, one comes before two.  I LOVE this house.  I feel called to care for this historic home and learn all there is to know about it.  You can’t recreate the character or charm of this house.  It simply needs some tender loving care.  If I am going to host events there, which I am doing now, it needs to be code compliant.  That means we have to make some changes.  Several of our projects are improvements you can’t really see, but will improve the infrastructure and usability.  We are adding all new heating and air conditioning as well as transitioning from a septic system to city sewer.  Fun stuff.  Our first project with visible results was to renovate the main bathroom to be ADA compliant.

Project 1: Bathroom Renovation

The bathroom is located off a small hallway that connects the original house to the original kitchen.  In order to pass inspections and provide a safe venue we are going to:

  • Raise the floor about 4″ so that the floor is even from the main house to the bathroom.  I can’t even count the number of times I have tripped on this step.
  • Update wiring and pipes. Evidently lead and galventized pipes aren’t cool.
  • Remove the tub to make room for ADA compliant grab bars and required clearance radius around the toilet.
  • Replace vanity with ADA compliant sink and faucet.
  • Add a mop sink that doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb to meet Health Department requirements.
  • Place two drinking fountains in the hallway to meet another code from some other code book.

We are doing our best to coordinate these renovations with the ascetic of the rest of the house with semi-commerical functionality.  For example, we choose a porcelain tile for the bathroom and hall that looks very similar to the original wood flooring we found underneath the old parquet flooring.  We also choose a paint color that was found elsewhere in the house.  Every little detail is important!

As anyone who has restored an older home knows, it is a slow and unpredictable process.  There will be pipes where there seems to be no logical reason to have them.  There will be mystery switches and wires that lead to nowhere.  There will be layers upon layers of lead paint and wallpaper.  And there will be snake skins under the bathtub.  If you are thinking about taking on some renovations, brace yourself for the highs and lows.  That being said, we are moving on to our next project soon.  It’s all worth it in the end.  For more historic home renovation tips, see our article in The Huffington Post.

Before Renovation

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During Renovation

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After Renovation

After Renovation